|Photo by Mehregan Javanmard|
In 1882, Frank R. Stockton wrote a famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?” about a convicted man who had to choose between two doors. One door led to freedom and marriage to a beautiful maiden, and the other to cruel death by a ravenous tiger. I had a dream recently in which I was faced with an equally life-changing decision.
In the dream, I was living in a strange country far from home. I had no provisions for my stay, but I heard that the ruler was giving away special gifts uniquely suited to each recipient. I lined up with many others to receive my gift, and one by one we were seated in small cabins ascending into the sky, like a ski lift.
When my seat reached the platform where an official was distributing gifts, I was shocked when he placed an infant in my arms. I had hoped for money, or a job, or a house, or some other way to sustain myself in this foreign land, and here I was with another mouth to feed!
But as soon as I held him I felt an unaccustomed sense of peace, hope, and awe at his perfect composure and regal bearing, so unexpected from such a young child. When he smiled, his eyes sparkled with sunbeams that lit the darkest recesses of my heart. Although I didn’t know how, I vowed that I would devote my life to caring for him.
As I held him on my knee he laughed with delight at various sights, drawing my attention to delicate flowers hidden along the path below, butterflies wafting on the breeze, a breathtaking waterfall that I would have missed otherwise. I had never before felt such joy or anticipation for the journey.
Suddenly I was distracted by a crawling sensation at my feet that made me shudder, and I feared that it might be a spider or even a tarantula. But to my surprise, on the floor of the cabin was a tiny white kitten, rubbing against my calves, wanting to be petted. I was concerned about the infant, but the kitten seemed so helpless and innocent that I reached down to stroke it.
|Photo by Alicia Harvey 2007|
With a plaintive “Meow” the creature leaped into my lap, still out of reach of the infant. But the baby fixed his eyes on me with a reproachful glance that cut through to my very soul, and my eyes filled with tears as I realized that I had betrayed him. The velvety skin on the pads of the kitten’s feet retracted suddenly to reveal cruel talons, and it pounced upward, clutching my throat.
I awoke in a panic, relieved that it was just a dream. Yet it got me thinking about the message our preacher gave last Sunday about the danger of letting sin creep into our life.
We are indeed strangers in a distant land, for our life on earth will be over in a flash (2 Corinthians 4:17). Then we will spend eternity in heaven or in hell, depending on whether or not we have been born again and trusted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Life on earth is full of trouble (Job 14:1), with no promises even for tomorrow (James 4:13-15). The best gift anyone could ever receive while on earth is the gift of salvation, of placing your faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6). Not only does that guarantee your eternal life in heaven, but it gives you abundant life here and now (John 10:10).
Not only will God provide for your physical needs (Psalm 37:25), but He will bless you spiritually with joy in Him (Nehemiah 8:10; Isaiah 61:10; Philemon 1:20), peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), and faith that He is working all things together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
The infant in my dream symbolized Jesus Christ, Who took on human flesh to come to earth as an Infant while retaining His divinity (John 1:14). He is all we need (2 Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 4:13). At the moment of salvation we are filled with joy, hope, and zeal to serve Him and to dedicate our lives to Him. If we remain faithful to that vow, we will be richly blessed by being in His perfect will (Romans 12:2).
But sadly, it is all too easy to let temptation creep into our lives, distracting our focus from Jesus. Why would we waste any of our time and energy on anything so clearly inferior to His perfection, especially when He promises us an escape from temptation? (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Peter 2:9) If we yield to temptation it becomes sin – often a vicious cycle of sin compounded upon sin -- and the wages of sin is death (Luke 11:4; Romans 6:23).
If we have truly been born again (John 3:3-8), our salvation and eternal life in heaven are secure no matter what sins we commit (John 10:28-29), for His death on the cross paid for it all (1 John 2:2; 4:10). Yet sin inevitably results in other forms of death (Romans 5:12-21). Sin kills our testimony and effectiveness as ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20); it demolishes our fellowship with Him (Luke 15:18-21); and it ultimately destroys our physical body through injury, substance abuse, and/or illness.
The devil doesn’t cloak temptation in black robes and warn us with thunder and lightning bolts to stay away. Instead, he lures us in, disguising temptation in beauty appealing to our eyes, our flesh, or our pride (1 John 2:16). He may tempt us into evil plans and deeds through the sympathetic whisper of a “friend.” (2 Samuel 13).
Temptation may appear as innocent and harmless as a kitten, but if you accept its advances, it will ultimately turn on you and endanger your very life (Proverbs 7). Samson (Judges 16:4-20), David (2 Samuel 11:1-15), and Solomon (1 Kings 11:4) all succumbed to lovely temptations, with disastrous results.
In the dream I was concerned about the infant, although not enough to resist the kitten. Yet it is not Christ Who is endangered by our sins, for He has forever conquered sin and death (Romans 5:12-21). We ourselves suffer the consequences of sin, not the least of which is the sadness of knowing we have quenched and grieved His Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30).
Which will you choose, the Infant or the kitten? Eternal life and abundant life blessed by His fellowship and being in His perfect will, or the downward spiral of sin and death? The choice is yours. But thankfully, He provides all you need to make the right choice.
Reposted from the archives